Santa Claus and Jesus – 6 Christian Values to Consider as You Prepare for Christmas
Is the question of Santa Claus and Jesus a challenge for you at Christmas? not sure about mixing fictitious beliefs with faith? maybe you just want to make sure your kids focus more on the real message of christmas. it’s a tricky business dealing with faith and fiction as a parent. If you’re wondering about this sort of thing, I want to encourage you that it’s a good thing you’re thinking deeper. I wrestled with all of this and studied the scriptures for answers. keep reading it is important to solve these things before the holidays arrive.
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holy clause and jesus
How is Santa Claus related to Jesus? how was a great magical man in a red suit associated with the birth of the savior of the world? More importantly, should Christians participate in the saint myth and what are the implications? we discuss all of this below.
is santa claus real?
As parents, we all know the big secret. and that in itself can be a problem. Keeping secrets and covering up lies is something you want to teach? Don’t forget that more is learned than taught, so “do what I say and not what I do” won’t get you very far. It’s important to consider the role secrets play in your home. and consider what is a good reason to hide the truth.
what they taught me about santa claus when I was a kid
For context, I think it’s best if I share my experience with the Santa story. i grew up without santa claus because my mom was still upset that she was lied to when she was a kid. Also, my parents were very religious and they reminded us that “Christmas is not about Santa Claus.”
While I recognize these are legitimate objections, I still felt robbed as a child. Among my peers, I was alone in my knowledge and therefore lack of enthusiasm around this “magical” part of Christmas. there was no wonder or mystery to behold. Now I realize that it is not the magic of Santa Claus that I missed in childhood, but the true magic of Christmas: the miracle of Christ on earth.
story of santa claus in christianity
so how is santa claus related to jesus? Santa Claus actually has a history in Christianity! The original Santa Claus story had more in common with Christian virtues than our modern stories. In fact, the real St Nick was a generous Christian monk. and you don’t get the official “saint” tag without doing some cool stuff.
st. Nicholas of Myra (in present-day Turkey) was a Christian monk who lived in the 3rd century AD. It is not clear what the specifics of him are, but he became famous for spending all of his time and inheritance traveling helping the poor and sick. . a beautiful example of Christian life.
The royal man was greatly admired and became the center of a number of popular legends after his death. Extraordinary miracles were attributed to him, such as stopping violent storms and bringing murdered children back to life. today, some consider him the patron saint of sailors, children, wolves, and more.
when the story of saint nicholas spread across northern europe, it mixed with folktales of goblins and flying chariots. Sinterklaas was the name given to it by the Dutch.
December 6 is supposedly the date of his death and the official day of the holy feast. This may be one more reason why it became associated with Christmas, which is only celebrated 19 days later. this is how we got to know the mythical figure of today. but sharing the true and original story surely has value. the real story is beautiful and better than the myths, in my opinion.
6 Christian Values To Consider When Teaching Santa
What does our modern story of Santa Claus teach our children? is it in line with the way jesus lived and taught? consider the following character issues below.
For me, one of the most important things for my relationship with my children and my ability to influence their lives, in the long run, is my trustworthiness. You only get unshakeable trust from your kids for a very short time before they start questioning you. then it’s up to you to prove yourself worthy of their trust.
taking advantage of their natural confidence when a little kid tells them you can’t be counted on, to tell you the truth. In addition, they learn a lot about deception and how far you will go to deceive them. it betrays your integrity and does not reflect the person and character of Christ.
If I go to great lengths to trick my child in the name of “fun,” what does that say about what I value most? what kind of example is it? Is having fun a good excuse to lie?
if i lie to you about santa, what stops me from lying to you about jesus? my words have lost value.
The current santa paradigm not only undermines our authenticity and integrity, it also undermines it in our children. I want to know my children, really know them. and I want to talk about uncomfortable truths with them.
I’ve done some personal work to stop using negative phrases like “don’t cry,” “it’s not that bad,” and “calm down.” Although it may make me uncomfortable to see them cry or get angry, it is important to me that they learn to identify and accept their feelings. How else will they learn to be authentic with themselves and with others?
santa says “you better not cry”, but the psalmist says of god, “you count my wanderings. you put my tears in your bottle are they not in your book? And John records that Jesus did not hold back his tears, but even in public Jesus wept.
While the threat of Santa’s wrath may convince your child to obey this holiday season, it’s teaching him to behave for the wrong reasons. it is teaching them to behave for a reward or fear of judgment. it is the very practice that predators, fascists, and cults rely on for compliance. the obedience that pleases god is done out of love. I want my children to do what I tell them as an act of love and trust, not to please a critical old man who holds all the cards.
With the rise of the goblin on the shelf, the influence to control children’s behavior has increased. Ever present is the nagging threat of losing “gifts” and having a sad and cringe-filled Christmas day.
I want my kids to trust their instincts, speak up when something feels wrong, and question the stories they’re told. I’ve heard of parents who silenced an older child who was waking up by telling them that if they don’t believe in Santa, they don’t get presents. this invalidates a child’s confidence in his own judgment or pushes him into the world of keeping an open secret. values keeping the charade over the truth.
“do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good will of god, pleasing and perfect” (romans 12:2, hcsb).
The current model of Santa Claus bringing gifts is contrary to the very meaning of a gift. Merriam-Webster defines a gift as “something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.” Santa’s gifts depend on behavior. Why should a child be thankful for gifts from Santa? They are compensation, not gifts. Do they write letters of thanks for their generosity, or do they feel empowered and relieved that they were deemed “good enough”?
and here’s another reason why. One year, a friend shared that after spending a large amount of money on a very nice “santa” gift for her son, she broke almost immediately. when the mother got upset, the boy replied, “why do you care? you didn’t pay for it.”
A definite part of having gratitude is acknowledging and appreciating the kindness of the giver. santa gets from her his toys from the enslaved elves and magic. alternatively, children could be given gifts based on the kindness of those who love them. sharing the beauty of this truth gives them a taste of unmerited grace and the opportunity to experience genuine gratitude.
the santa paradigm puts all the focus on the child, his desires and his behavior. promotes self-satisfaction. each interaction turns into them being good enough to earn their gifts. they are told to make a list, not of what they are grateful for, but of all their needs and wants. Their attention is diverted from the nice gifts they may have spent on Thanksgiving to being grateful to get their parents ready for the big shopping day. this not only generates discontent with what they have, but also with themselves. they are being watched and judged at all times. one wrong move and they could be declared “bad” and lose everything they wanted, or they could be perfectly “good” and feel self-righteous and entitled to their “gifts.”
Your parents, who have told you no all year, are about to be annulled by Santa Claus. be good and he will give you what your stingy parents will not give you. Of course, as mentioned above, these gifts depend on behavior. so they are not really gifts, but compensation. this hides the example of generosity. not even santa is generous. he is not giving freely out of his own goodness.
also, their entire focus on themselves leaves little room to consider how they might give generously to others. if they have not received freely, why give freely and abundantly?
how to tell your child that santa is not real
my 6 year old son, a very literal kid and possibly on the spectrum, had been asking a lot of questions about santa. some of them were very direct and pointed. there was no skirting around them. I decided the template was done.
I asked my oldest daughter, who has known this for a few years, what she thought about Santa in hindsight. she said she didn’t mind much, except that looking back knowing she was sitting on a strange man’s lap scared her a little. I felt bad about it.
The way I told my son was to tell him that I was ready to answer any questions he had about Santa. so when he asked, i answered honestly, always. he took it very well, he even seemed relieved.
after realizing that santa claus wasn’t real, he asked why people dress up as santa claus. i said he was like halloween, for fun. To mix some good news with some disappointing, I also told him to give him the gifts because we love him and want to be generous and considerate. I told him that it is better to receive gifts because people who love you instead of Santa, who judges you to decide if you receive gifts.
We don’t “earn” your gifts. he actually didn’t remember any of the “santa” gifts, so he thought she santa “didn’t know anything about me”. He thought that was why Santa only gave him a candy cane and a coloring book (Santa that drives around the neighborhood does this, ha!).
the real christmas message
My son asked why we give gifts at Christmas. i told her it’s because we’re celebrating jesus came to earth and was born and when someone has a new baby, you give them gifts.
I also told him about the real Saint Nicholas, a Christian who lived a long time ago in a far away country. I gave him a brief description of how this man wanted to help the poor, who had no gifts at Christmas.
And of course, we make sure to celebrate Christian traditions and pre-Christmas stories. We talked about the need for a savior to come to earth and the joy and relief when Jesus finally came. The true message of Christmas is that God keeps his promises, that he chose to be God with and among us, and he humbly entered this world.
ideas to keep santa claus and jesus
Just because I pushed Santa to the curb doesn’t mean it’s the right path for everyone. Here are some suggestions on how to make Santa in a way that doesn’t betray Christian values.
protect the value of truth
don’t preach holy. no need kids will hear a lot about it from their friends.
don’t discourage questions.
thinking and questioning things is an important part of development.
don’t fight the truth.
if you find out, if you say “this can’t be true”, then recognize that the trick is over. doubling the bet makes you doubly suspicious. models fight for a lie.
I know who will tell you.
When there is an important question, when it is not clear what is right and true, teach them that you are the only one they trust to tell the truth.
there is a way to keep children on their toes without lying. a few phrases: – what do you think? – that’s hard to believe. – I’m not going to tell you. it’s up to you to find out. – what are your friends saying? you get the idea, be doubtful. answer with questions. help them talk and figure it out. always have qualifiers like “maybe…could be…wonder if…”
assert healthy boundaries
encourage their discernment
Tell them you appreciate their ideas and questions. remind them that it’s good not to take everything at face value and that they shouldn’t always trust what their friends say.
assert the limits of your body.
Don’t make them sit on Santa’s lap. offer to let them stand next to him or avoid santa altogether.
Tell them you’re proud of them for saying they don’t want to sit on Santa’s lap. remind them that they never have to accept unwanted touches to receive gifts.
encourage gratitude and joy
I like the idea of Santa only giving small gifts and leaving the good stuff for friends and family. I think it’s a better opportunity for gratitude. he can say or write thank you notes to people he knows and sees.
Don’t stir up discontent by putting too much emphasis on your “Christmas list.” mention it once, if necessary, take notes and leave it. If you’re not sure what to buy, I’ve found that fun family activities make amazing gifts. One year, we asked our entire family to contribute Disneyland tickets instead of sending physical gifts. it was amazing last year a good friend bought us a family membership to a museum.
give them no more than 3 gifts. downplaying the christmas list helps with how this turns out. I know this may sound crazy to some of you, but consider that you are likely to receive gifts from many aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. my kids have yet to complain that they didn’t get enough presents. Last year I spent $20 per child, this year I went all out and spent $30 per child.
clean up your things. Before or after the gifts, be sure to keep the same amount or less space allotted for your belongings. emphasize that they have a lot to share with those who would have a lot of fun with the toys they no longer want.
differentiate gifts from rewards. if you want to keep the reward aspect, explain it. Maybe Santa gives gifts because she is kind and generous, but she likes to give extra rewards to those who go out of their way to do good.
if you let santa get all the credit, then give credit to the type of character you value. say something like “someone who travels the world to bring gifts? sounds like a lot of work. I think it would take a very generous and kind person for that.” point out the thoughtfulness and effort that family and friends made to give.
tells the origin story of Saint Nicholas and his concern for the poor.
Help them shop for gifts for others: friends, family, and especially those in need. focus on how giving could make their lives happier.
maintain your authenticity and integrity
Don’t use Santa to manipulate your children, especially if it means keeping them from expressing their feelings. If “it’s better not to cry”, does that mean it’s not okay to feel sad? Doesn’t crying make sadness go away? encourage them to be who they are and express what they feel in healthy and acceptable ways.
drop the spy elf/santa. if she wants her children to have integrity, they need to find the courage to do what is right because it is right. this is part of intrinsic motivation. intrinsic motivation is more powerful and lasting than extrinsic (rewards). Manipulating them into behavior may make our lives as parents easier in the short term, but in the long term it risks turning them into hypocrites.
put jesus first
If building faith in Christ is important to your family, then show it. He talks more about Jesus than anything else during the Christmas season. Tell them Jesus is better than Santa.
whatever you do, consider the impact of your words and actions. Your testimony of Christ is your most important duty as a parent.
christmas story bible verses
For your reference, this is where you can find the Christmas story in the Bible.
The 2 most detailed narrative stories leading up to the birth of Jesus are found in Matthew and Luke, specifically Luke 1:26-2:40 and Matthew 1:18-2:23.
I also recommend you check out Librarian Aryn’s 35 Best Christian Christmas Storybooks for Kids.
more Christmas Bible verses
the truth is that references to jesus can be found throughout the bible from genesis to revelation. but here are some more verses related to his coming or birth of him specifically.
Isaiah has some of my favorite verses about Jesus.
“because a child has been born to us. we are given a son, and the government will be on his shoulders. his name will be called his wonderful counselor, mighty god, everlasting father, prince of peace ”(Isaiah 9: 6).
the coming of jesus in genesis
seeing jesus in genesis is not as clear as the previous verses. it helps to cross-reference with other scriptures. In John 1:1-5 John gives his version of the origin story of Jesus. as he writes, “in the beginning was the word, and the word was with god, and the word was god. the same was in the beginning with god. all things were made through him. without him, nothing that has been made was made. 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of men. the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
in genesis 1:3 we see the power & the presence of jesus in the word, the creation and the light, all in this single verse. “God said: ‘let there be light,’ and there was light.”
Jesus is spoken of more specifically in Genesis 3:14-15. I love that from the moment of the fall, we are given a promise of hope and redemption.
“Then the Lord God said to the serpent:
Because you have done this, you are cursed above all the beasts and all the animals of the field! on your chest you will walk, and dust you will eat, all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
the coming of jesus in the revelation
Despite modern notions, the revelation is not about the end times. The entirety of the revelation is about Jesus first and foremost and a revelation of his identity and kingdom. yes, it also gives us clues of things to come, but it is first and foremost about jesus. In Revelation 12:5, the birth of Jesus is told from a more spiritual perspective. “And she brought forth a son, a son, who will rule all nations with a rod of iron. and her son was caught up to God and to his throne.”
some final thoughts on santa claus and jesus
I guess the reveal is a good place to end. No matter what you choose for your family, I hope you have peace choosing it prayerfully and in good conscience. As a final note, do your best not to judge others who do Santa differently. each person is on their own journey and it is up to god to guide them. I pray that you have a blessed Christmas filled with the best parts of this season of hope. I pray that your entire family will fall deeper in love with Jesus and feel deeper gratitude for this special giving to our world in need.
Do you enjoy this? you may also be interested:
biblical responsibilities of parents
how to teach your child integrity
Merry Christmas in July!
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